Thank you Traveler's Joy for allowing us to “skip the blender” and make our honeymoon dreams come true!
As a Pittsburgh couple getting married in November, we were really eager and excited to plan our honeymoon somewhere in warm climate. When we began researching places, it was hard for us to nail down a place that offered everything we wanted. We thought about cruises, but we personally did not want to spend our honeymoon aboard ship. We considered tropical beach paradises – and although they sound nice – it did not fit our personalities. We are a lively couple that likes to explore and dive right into the culture and lifestyle of the city we visit. At last! We know where we want to go... Europe! But the search still continued to find the perfect location. Prior to getting hitched, we visited many European cities, both together and separately, and wanted to choose a place that both of us could experience for the first time together. One night while curled up on the couch, a movie came on the television that takes place in Las Vegas. I unromantically uttered to my fiancée, “You’ve been to Vegas, right? It looks like fun.” To my surprise, the reply back was “No. I’ve never been there.” In that instance, we both knew; Las Vegas, Nevada for our first adventure as husband and wife!
As planning for the wedding continued, the planning for the honeymoon just began! We came across the Traveler's Joy website through reading an online article and were immediately drawn to the inventiveness and convenience of the website. Sure enough, we created an account and started planning our perfect getaway.
Skip ahead to Monday, November 12, 2012. It’s 3:30am and a car arrives outside to drive us to the airport to catch a 5:56am flight. We boarded a Boeing 737 and landed in... Houston, Texas. Have no fear though, that was part of our plan all along! We successfully caught our connecting flight in Houston and arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada around noon local time (after catching a few aerial peeks of the Grand Canyon!)
Being that this was our first time to Vegas, and our honeymoon of course, we wanted to stay in quintessential Vegas lodging. We chose the Bellagio hotel and it was perfect! It’s a great hotel for lovers! Checking in was easy and the concierge staff was very informative and helpful. They even made a few reservations for us. As we approached our room door in the beautifully decorated hotel, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy, excitement, and ease. We had a lovely room – vibrant décor with elegant accessories, spacious designs, and a marvelous view that overlooked the entire pool area and courtyards. With so many things to do and see, we were ready to jump right into the Vegas scene. Our first stop was lunch, however. Indulged in the Bellagio surroundings, we dined at Café Bellagio. Although it was a bit crowded, our service was good and the food was delicious. After satisfying our hungry stomachs, we made our way outdoors and began exploring Las Vegas. Hotel hopping, window shopping, and sipping on some of Vegas’ tasty beverages, our senses were in overload and we loved every minute of it.
When telling our family and friends that we would be honeymooning in Las Vegas through the week until November 17th, they all thought we were crazy. A common question that we were asked was, “What are you going to do in Vegas for that long?” Well, after returning home to Pittsburgh, we were happy to give an earful of stories to those friends and family members bragging about all of our exciting adventures. Throughout the week, we were lucky to experience so many great things while falling deeper in love every moment. Sightseeing, dining at exquisite restaurants, exhibits, late night shows – we did it all!
Our honeymoon adventures fell into two different categories - more subdued and relaxing strolls during the morning and afternoon; and then vivacious and lively nightlife excursions. Since the strip is so large, we broke it up into sections visiting a new part on different days. Even though there are taxis and the metro on the strip, we chose to walk and take everything in step by step. One of the first sites we fell in love with was right outside of our hotel door – the fountains at the Bellagio. There was something about seeing the water dance that made it so peaceful and mesmerizing to watch. We also enjoyed on another sunny afternoon the gondola ride at the Venetian Hotel. For our first gonadal ride, we chose the outdoor course and were fortunate enough to luck out on a private gondola. As the sun shined down on us, the water calmed us and we slipped into a trance while being serenaded. Holding each other gently in our arms, it was truly the perfect moment. Since we had such a pleasant experience the first time around, we went on a second gondola ride! But this time we chose the indoor setting. Similar to the first ride, the second experience was just as nice. Only this time, we shared the gondola with a nice couple who were also honeymooning in Las Vegas. It was a lover’s boat for sure.
For both us, our absolute favorite afternoon activity is hands down indoor skydiving! On the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard sits a hidden gem, Vegas Indoor Skydiving. This was truly a fun and unique experience that we just did on a whim one day. No appointment was necessary, although reservations are accepted. We walked right in and signed ourselves up for a session. The instructors working were extremely friendly and helpful and were willing to answer any and all of our questions.
After signing up for our session, they took us to the upstairs level where we watched a tutorial video. The video was about twenty minutes long, but it was extremely important because it explained some common body positions and hand signals that are used to help your body sustain form due to the fact that it’s very loud in the wind tunnel once the machine is turned on. After the instructional video was over, it was time to suit up! Everything was provided for us – helmet, goggles, earplugs, body flight suit, knee and elbow pads, and even Velcro shoes. We then walked across the hall and entered the vertical wind tunnel which included a mesh trampoline floor and foam padded walls. Before the wind was turned on, the instructor allowed us to get acclimated to our surroundings and test out the trampoline a few times. Once we felt ready, it was time to experience a free-fall! We took turns jumping in towards the center of the wind tunnel and in a blink of an eye, our bodies were propelled upwards at 120mph and we were flying! The instructor was with us the entire time making sure our bodies stayed in control and that we were comfortable and having fun. We even got to try out a few tricks in the air.
The flight simulation lasts about 5-7 minutes (typically three minutes per person), but if we were to skydive from a real plane, we’d only experience the free-fall sensation for 10-15 seconds. Needless to say, this was truly a unique experience! Although we do not have any still photos to capture the moment (simply because no cameras are allowed in the wind tunnel), we do have – and even better yet – a DVD of our indoor skydiving flight. This certainly was a conversation starter at our holiday parties!
After a relaxing - and sometimes exhilarating - day, we typically returned to the Bellagio hotel for our afternoon naps. Yes, we took naps and it was awesome! If an adult can’t take a nap on their own honeymoon, then when can we? After feeling well rested, it was time to experience the nightlife Vegas offers. Usually, our evenings consisted of dinner and a show. One might think ‘dinner and show’ would get boring night after night, but it wasn’t! Each night was a new restaurant paired with a new show. The very first late night show that we saw was Jubilee! Las Vegas in the Bally’s hotel. Jubilee! Las Vegas is a topless show where the showgirls wear gorgeous and lavish headdresses, jewelry, and costume pieces. It was true old-fashioned Vegas! Towards the end of the week, we also saw Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. A sultry and seductive performance, Peepshow included creative choreography and elaborate stage productions. Our favorite show however was easily “O” Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio. A magical aquatic performance, “O” took us on a romantic journey that comprised of synchronized swimmers, divers, and breathtaking acrobats. Prior to the shows, we dined at unforgettable restaurants that left our taste buds dancing the entire evening. A few of our favorite places that we dined at included: Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Gordon Ramsay Steak, and the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas. The Eiffel Tower Restaurant was my personal favorite because we sat at a table for two against the window which offered stunning vistas of the Vegas strip. We even got to see the fountains at the Bellagio from atop the Eiffel Tower!
In our opinion, one nice feature of Las Vegas is that it can fit with any budget. For us, we decided to book through an online travel company, Orbitz Travel. Depending on where you fly from, where you stay, and the activities you choose to do, Vegas expenses are going to differ from person to person. We booked a flight and hotel package through Orbitz for a grand total of $1,427.72, including fees. We chose not to purchase any performance tickets in advance because we did not want to be tied down to a specific schedule and most of our spending was done in the moment. Roughly, we ended up spending an additional $1,000-$1,250 during the week. A helpful traveler’s tip that we put to good use was taking advantage of the half priced ticket stands, Tix4Tonight. This allowed us to enjoy must-see Las Vegas attractions at a discounted admission rate. Tix4Tonight even offers a large selection of dining establishments that allow you to save additional money off of your total check.
Honeymooning in Las Vegas was truly a memorable experience that we wouldn’t change for any other. Who else can say that they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to ride the roller coaster atop New York, New York in the same afternoon a gondola took them through the canals of Venice, and then topping the evening off with a kiss under the Eiffel Tower? And we did it all without a passport! From Madame Tussauds to spa treatments to Napoleon's Dueling Piano Bar, we absolutely recommend Las Vegas, Nevada for aspiring honeymooners. Las Vegas has a way of offering something for everyone and leaves you thirsting for more. Thank you Traveler's Joy for allowing our guests to help us create our perfect escape.